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THE NEWS WRAP: ACCC urges federal government to sell off public assets

Monday, 6 January 2014 | By Gavin Lower

Australia’s competition regulator has urged the federal government to sell off assets such as Australia Post and Medibank Private and push for the privatisation of state-owned energy companies, arguing power prices would have been cheaper if the utilities were in private hands.


“Government ownership versus private ownership massively affects the incentives people have to drive productivity change,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims told The Australian Financial Review.


Sims said the federal government’s root-and-branch review of competition laws would be more far-reaching than business expected and should recommend the government relinquish control of long-held assets to maximise productivity and create the greatest benefit to consumers.


Retail discount sales on track to beat forecast


Australian retailers say they have seen a solid week of post-Christmas sales, with the industry’s peak body suggesting they could top forecasts of $15.1 billion over the clearance period, The Australian reports.


It says Myer chief executive Bernie Brookes has said sales at the department store had been sustained following the traditional Boxing Day rush.


“There’s been a lot of people out shopping every day, but we’ve learnt a lot from previous years about making it sustainable, so we keep introducing new offers to keep people coming back,” Brookes says.


Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman says retailers could exceed its prediction of $15.1 billion in sales.


Franchisors could face penalties in rules shake-up


The federal government is set to address the power imbalance between franchisors and franchisees, potentially bringing in penalties of up to $50,000 for companies that break the industry’s code, The Australian Financial Review reports.


Small Business Minister Bruce Billson told the AFR the conduct of some big franchisors towards their franchisees was a concern.


There are real pressures in the franchising sector where there’s a heavy dependence (between parties) and it’s not an adult-to-adult commercial relationship,” the minister said.


The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed Friday up 0.17% at 16,469.99 points. The Australian dollar is buying US89.6 cents.